While the Red Deer Rebels have given up far more goals through 11 games this season than what is deemed acceptable to the coaching staff, the club hasn’t exactly lit it up offensively, either.
The Rebels have scored 33 goals to date and only six have come via a power play that is ranked 18th in the league with a 15 per cent success rate.
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter addressed — and is hoping he partially rectified — the situation with Monday’s acquisition of 18-year-old winger Tyler Sandhu from the Everett Silvertips.
“He’s a kid we’re hoping can come in and give us some offence,” said Sutter, who gave up a fourth-round pick (originally belonging to the Regina Pats) in the 2015 bantam draft and a fourth-round selection in 2016 in return for the five-foot-10, 180-pound native of Richmond, B.C.
“He’s certainly someone who has done it in the past,” Sutter continued. “He scored 19 goals as a 16-year-old in our league and last season he had a tough year with injuries and stuff and still scored 13 goals (in 47 games).
“He’s a skilled player who can skate and shoot the puck. We had to add something to our power play and needed to add some offence to our top nine forwards. Like any trade, there’s always risk involved, but he’s excited about coming here and we’re excited about adding him to our group.”
Sandhu, who was driving to Richmond from Everett Monday, will fly into Red Deer today and will be in the Rebels lineup Friday versus the visiting Prince George Cougars.
Sandhu scored 18 goals and recorded 45 points in 38 games with the B.C. Major Midget League Greater Vancouver Canadians as a 15-year-old in 2011-12. A second-round pick of Portland in the 2011 bantam draft, he was part of a package Everett received from the Winterhawks in exchange for defenceman Seth Jones.
Sandhu garnered 19 goals and 33 points in 62 games during his rookie WHL season, and then contributed 13 goals and 30 points in an injury-shortened 2013-14 campaign. He was relegated to fourth-line duty this fall and scored one goal in nine games with the ‘Tips.
For more on Sandhu, here are some excerpts from a blog written by Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald:
“I’ve talked to both Sandhu and Tips general manager Garry Davidson, and there seems to be some discrepancy on whether Sandhu asked for a trade. Davidson said Sandhu was dissatisfied with his role and requested a trade, while Sandhu said he didn’t request a trade and that it came as a shock.
“But regardless of whether a trade request was made or not, I can’t say this deal comes as a surprise to me.
“From Sandhu’s perspective, he was maybe the best 16-year-old in the Western Conference two seasons ago (he won the Best 16-year-old in that season’s Best of the West poll), but now found himself on the fourth line and seeing little if any power-play time. From the Tips’ perspective, they had a player who seemed to be regressing after a promising rookie campaign. Davidson sounded like he wasn’t looking to trade Sandhu away and that he would have liked Sandhu to be patient, but that Sandhu continued to express frustration with his role and that Sandhu might need a fresh start.
“I’ll say this much. If things click for Sandhu in Red Deer — and that’s still an “if” — this will be one heck of a trade for the Rebels. Sandhu will be a 19-year-old in his fourth WHL season when Red Deer hosts the Memorial Cup, and he has the potential to be an impact offensive performer for that team.
“If he becomes a point-per-game player, he costs Red Deer at least a first rounder this time next year.”
• Regarding the class action lawsuit filed against the Canadian Hockey League Monday, Sutter refused to comment, and in fact all major junior teams have been told not to address the lawsuit.
The commissioners of the CHL issued a statement Monday defending the CHL’s education and post-secondary scholarship programs, extensive health and safety, anti-doping and mentoring programs, a comprehensive mental health program and out-of-pocket expense coverage, equipment, billeting and travel costs.
“In terms of the class action that was filed today in Toronto late last week, the CHL, our member leagues and teams will vigorously defend ourselves against this action which will not only have a negative effect on hockey in Canada but through all sports in which amateur student athletes are involved,” the statement concluded.